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Local News

Fiesta Cruiser Tradition Rolls On as Local Bicyclists Fill the Streets for Annual Ride

Putting Old Spanish Days behind them, throngs of riders set out from Stearns Wharf for excursion to Isla Vista and back

Cyclists set out Sunday morning on the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride. The round-trip excursion tradition between Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara and Isla Vista marks the unofficial end of Old Spanish Days. Click to view larger
Cyclists set out Sunday morning on the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride. The round-trip excursion tradition between Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara and Isla Vista marks the unofficial end of Old Spanish Days. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Equipped with music speakers and bicycle bells, hundreds of beach-cruising bike riders gathered Sunday at the base of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf to finish the Old Spanish Days celebration with the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride.

The unsanctioned excursion, held the Sunday morning of the Old Spanish Days weekend, includes a roughly 12-mile route to Isla Vista before returning to the Santa Barbara waterfront.

Santa Barbara resident Kelly Smith was among the participants lined up along the Cabrillo Boulevard bike path at the State Street intersection by the wharf.

“It’s fun, and I’ve been participating for a few years,” he said. “Viva La Fiesta!”

The tradition started in the 1970s, but having hundreds of cyclists flood the streets has resulted in increased law enforcement presence, traffic citations and safety concerns over the years.

The Santa Barbara Police Department advised participants of this year’s ride to expect officers to enforce bike-related traffic laws.

Santa Barbara police estimate that up to 1,000 riders may have taken part in the ride, according to Onalisa Hoodes, SBPD services coordinator. About 10 citations were handed out on Sunday, Hoodes said. The most common traffic violations authorities encountered Sunday were riding a bike on the sidewalk, Hoodes said.

In past years, police received complaints from the public about disorderly and hazardous conduct by the bicyclists participating, according to Anthony Wagner, SBPD’s public engagement manager. Some bikers in previous years have disobeyed traffic laws, resulting in unsafe conditions for themselves, motorists and pedestrians, he added.

This year’s ride was accompanied by the presence of extra police officers along the route, which headed north on State Street.

The SBPD reported a total of 284 citations, up from last year's 175, and 112 arrests during this year’s Old Spanish Days celebration between Wednesday and Sunday night.

The majority of the citations were vehicle-related, with 150 traffic citations, 37 parking citations and 12 cars towed.

There was a decrease in felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests and DUI arrests compared to 2016's Fiesta. Police reported 14 felony arrests this year compared to 32 in 2016. Ninety-four misdemeanor arrests, down from last year's 98, and four DUI arrests were also made this year.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Hundreds of cyclists participated in Sunday’s annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride. Click to view larger
Hundreds of cyclists participated in Sunday’s annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
Bicyclists gather at Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf on Sunday morning to join in the annual Fiesta cruiser ride across the South Coast. Click to view larger
Bicyclists gather at Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf on Sunday morning to join in the annual Fiesta cruiser ride across the South Coast. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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